April 29, 2012

Chirpity chirpity chirp chirp chirp


I rang my first ordinary Sunday service at the abbey this afternoon.  Chirpity chirpity, etc.  And I did not humiliate myself.*  Quadruple chirpity.  Sextuple chirpity.  Icosahedronic chirpity.

            I didn’t tell you this last night because there’s a limit to how much gruesome suspense I’m willing to share.  Gemma has kept on telling me that the abbey is always short at Sunday afternoon service, and that last week, for example, they almost didn’t ring at all because only four ringers turned up—apparently they have a status to maintain, and with eighty-seven bells refuse to countenance minimus**—and then Wild Robert, who I believe shows at the abbey most Sunday afternoons except when he’s in London practising for the national twenty-six-bell demolition derby, arrived in the nick of time***.  Indeed Wild Robert told me a similar story about Sunday afternoon at the abbey a fortnight ago.  And then after the reification of the overgoddess last week I was thinking, okay, McKinley, they didn’t need you but they let you ring, when are you going to start paying your way† by showing up for ordinary service ringing?

            Dither dither dither dither dither.  The other side of service ringing is that you don’t get to do it till you’re ready.  Till you can, you know, ring.  Which I’m not showing really rampant signs of being able to do at the abbey (yet).  I’m clearly improving, if raggedly, but . . . but if they’re that short-handed we could ring frelling call changes.††  Dither.  Dither.

            So last night, Saturday night, at the last possible minute for Sunday, I wrote—emailed—Ulrich, saying that I felt I should wait till I was asked but Gemma keeps telling me the abbey needs ringers for Sunday afternoons and while I’m finding ringing at the abbey a steep learning curve if/when they think I might be more of an asset than a liability . . . I could maybe come along. 

            Then I spent the rest of the evening twitching wildly every time my email pinged.†††  But by the time I went to bed last night at seriously mmph o’clock‡ Ulrich had not answered.  He could have clutched his forehead and reeled away from his email with a cry of dismay . . . or he could have a life and been out doing pleasant things on Saturday night.  But apparently my Sunday afternoon was to be free to keep on with SHADOWS.‡‡

            I was staggering around, perhaps rather late, this morning, grappling with difficult issues like tea and underwear, and I had Astarte on the kitchen counter.  And she pinged.  I stared at her with a wild surmise.  That email ping could have been any number of people.  It could have been my homeopathic mailing list.  It could have been someone wondering where I was and why I hadn’t answered their last (a lot of choice here).  It could have been first contact with a sentient alien species.

            It wasn’t.  It was Ulrich.  Please do come along, he said.

            So I did.‡‡‡

            And I wasn’t brilliant.§  But I was okay.§§ 

* * *

* This is me, right?  I don’t say ‘I did well’ or even ‘I did pretty well’ or even ‘I didn’t do too badly’.  I say ‘I did not humiliate myself.’  Siiiiigh.  I wonder if I could ask for a positive attitude for my sixtieth birthday?^ 

^ I could ask.  

** Four bells.  Remember that method ringing is about jumbling up the order, but that a bell can only move one place each row.  There’s not a lot you can do with only four bells.  People have been known to ring full peals on four bells . . . but they’re madder even than the usual run of method ringers.   At New Arcadia, however, if there are four ringers for Sunday service, they ring minimus. 

*** Which is not to say that he hadn’t been to London.  He had.  In several locations.  Wild Robert spends all day on a train on Sundays, punctuated by bursts of ringing.  By the time he gets to the afternoon ring at the abbey the edge, I believe, is wearing off, and he’s almost ready for the new week, which contains things other than ringing. 

† I’ve said all this before but I’ll say it again because it’s important.  Bell ringing lives and dies on a huge amount of volunteer effort.  A huge amount of volunteer effort.  Being a paid-up member costs you about £7.50 a year and if you are a cheap s.o.b. your church will pay your sub for you.  The rest is the hours that you and the other ringers put into it.  All those millions of hours ringing teachers put into teaching people to ring—most of whom will drop out again before they become useful ringers—are all gratis.  All those hours the bands around those learners put into ringing for the learners to bounce off of are all gratis. 

            But we need bells to ring.  Bells are housed in churches^ and maintained by church admin.^^  And we pay for the enormous privilege of having bells to ring . . . by ringing services.  Ordinary Sunday services, and anything else the priest or semi-sacred minion or congregation member asks for—reification of goddesses, weddings, funerals, births of grandchildren, first official contact with sentient alien species^^^, whatever.  It’s what we’re for.  And yes, there are lots of ringers who don’t honour this unwritten contract, but they are all slime moulds. 

            And personally, as someone who needs endless practise grinding to frelling LEARN anything, I get anxious about payback pretty quickly. 

^ There are, I believe, a few Catholic churches with method bells, but the overwhelming majority of method ringing goes on in Anglican church towers.  I think this is true world-wide as well as the UK, but then method ringing as it is done in the UK is a British invention and British art form, and it tends to show up only in (chiefly) English-speaking ex-colonies:  USA, Australia, South Africa.  The UK and particularly England however is the only place there are lots of bell ringing towers.  

^^ With occasional help from ringer-driven Bell Funds, especially when major work needs to be done.  Churches haven’t been wealthy since Henry VIII.  Ha ha.

^^^ I’m looking forward to this one.  Perhaps they’ll compose a new method, like they have for the Olympics+.  Spock Royal.  Aeryn Sun Surprise.  Vorlon Vector Double Spliced.   

+But don’t get me started.  

†† I’m not looking forward to call changes at the abbey.  The ringing chamber, as I keep moaning, is gigantic, and the sound-carrying is dire.  As it is I’m just about guessing when there’s a sharp barking noise during a touch that it’s the conductor shouting ‘bob’ or ‘single’.  Now all I have to do is figure out which.  Call changes are dependent on the conductor calling EACH change.  Which means you have to be able to hear them.  But call changes mean that people who haven’t learnt any methods^ can still ring. 

^ Or are too panic-stricken or intimidated to remember them 

††† It does this kind of a lot.  I belong to a distressingly lively homeopathic list. 

‡ I have many wicked friends who want the worst for me, and introduce me to evil computer games.  I’m also rereading CHARMED LIFE for the umpty-mumbleth time, but I’m trying to read it as slowly as possible, which leaves me easy prey to evil computer games.  Aaaaaugh. 

‡‡ Speaking of aaaaaaugh.  AAAAAAAAAAUGH.  

‡‡‡ Note that I wasn’t sacrificing a good gardening afternoon or anything.  The gale didn’t merely knock all my rosebushes over, it drove water both under my front door and through the stable-door crack in the middle.  I hope the baby robins are hugging the ground.  The hellhounds and I, attempting to hurtle, remained earthbound chiefly because they hated the whole situation so much that they became little anvils at the ends of their leads.

§ Brilliance, with me and bells, is not an option. 

§§ I was half grateful and half amused, watching Og figuring out how best to handle me.  He called an easy touch of bob minor while I was ringing inside.  I rang the tenor-behind for Stedman doubles—at a tower that isn’t the abbey I can ring Stedman.  And we finished with rounds on the back six, which was kind of a hoot.  The last four bells at the abbey are all seriously, INCREASINGLY huge.  I’ve told you about ringing rounds on forty-six, where you pull off and then have to wait till it’s your turn again, because there are so many bells that have to go first.  In a way the effect of waiting is more pronounced when you’re ringing only the back six because it is only six, but the pauses between the big bells are so marked.  I was, of course, on the treble.  Dong . . . dong . . . . . .  . dong . . . . . . . . . DONG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DONG . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . DONG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DOOOOOOOOONG.

            But it was also useful, this afternoon’s ring.  I’m finding my feet at the abbey.  I hope.

Tea and No Sympathy


IT’S RAINING.  Of course it’s raining.  It has always rained.  It will always rain.*  Tomorrow we’re supposed to have gales.  I’m so happy.  Meanwhile the robins have dispersed.  Silly little beggars.  They should stay in the greenhouse where there’s a roof.  I’ve thought of this a lot in the last ten days or so—at least the baby robins in the greenhouse aren’t melting.  There is a good EIGHT INCHES of rain in my buckets.  I’ve emptied my two-inch-measure rain gauge several times.  Robins were still in the nest yesterday but gone without a trace today.  Usually the little-things-in-the-shrubbery start making themselves known immediately—and there’s no way in or out of the cottage garden except by flying** unless I open the greenhouse door, which I haven’t in over a week.***  They’re probably in shock:  they hop out of the nest, stumble along the shelf, nose-dive to the ground, yell, YAAY!  FREEDOM!, and are instantly smacked to the floor by a large handful of rain.    

            The double daily serving of mealworms disappeared as normal today however, so something is eating them.  The mealworm saucer—also inside the greenhouse, where dinner won’t drown—is on the flight path to the nest and I haven’t seen anything else hanging around, so I prefer to think it’s dad robin.  I’ve seen him a few times, looking harassed.  If perhaps there’s a break in the gales tomorrow I would quite like to get outdoors and pot up a few little green things (this will involve moving the dish of mealworms, which is on my potting table) and will try to catch dad poking mealworms into little things in the shrubbery.

            I rang for a wedding today, in South Desuetude, poor things.  I hope the bride’s gown had mud flaps.†  But Colin is bonkers.††  We rang some rather good call changes, nice and brisk and crisp.  I’ve said this before, that you’re usually so fixated on trying to learn methods that you forget that (mostly) well-struck call changes are pretty cool.  Then Colin cast his eye over his band and declared that we would ring bob triples.  For pity’s sake.  Four of us out of eight knew what we were doing—I can’t remember the last time I was offered the opportunity to have a go at a practise course of bob triples.  And we’re ringing it for a wedding??†††  Two of us clueless ones were on the treble and the tenor—but I was ringing inside as was Cora, who promptly went wrong on her first dodge.  Colin dragged us jovially out of the resulting morass and we continued . . . and then Boadicea went wrong.  No fair.  You’re one of the ones who knows what she’s doing.  I never did figure out who I was making long sevenths over.  I know the line on the page, as opposed to in the hurly-burly of ringing, so I just kept counting my line—and Colin kept yanking us on.  We came round.  I have no idea how.  It cleared the churchyard however. . . .

            And I went home for a bracing cup of tea. 


I do not know about this “warming the cup” part of making tea. Doesn’t the hot water make the cup warm? 


Depends how long you want the cup of tea to stay hot. If you want the tea to cool quickly so you can gulp it down before you dash out the door then a cold cup will assist. If you want a leisurely cuppa then warming the cup is “proper”. 

::Clutches forehead::  Where were you people RAISED?  Is NOTHING SACRED?  Have the younger generations been DENIED THE WISDOM OF THE AGES?  You warm your vessel for brewing tea—cup or pot—so the tea steeps correctly. ‡  And then there’s the whole commotion about whether you add the milk first or second:  but since I don’t use milk I am allowed to give a miss to this embattled controversy.‡‡

            Now I am going to SING.  Oisin gave me a, you should forgive the term, new thing yesterday, which casts an interesting light on his view of my singing, but I’ll tell you all about it if I manage to learn it.  Mwa ha ha ha ha. 

* * *

* Except when there’s a drought, of course.  

** All right.  I admit it.  Phineas’ previous cat once made it over his garden-room roof into my garden.  I was not amused.  He^ received a bucket of water for his pains and I didn’t see him again.  Grrrrrr.^^  

^ The cat, that is.  Not Phineas.  

^^Q&A page today: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/apr/27/joss-whedon-screenwriter-director 

Cat or dog?
Cat! Dog: need need, poop, chew, need, lick, need. Cat: whatev. Meow, yo. Here’s a mouse. 


Cat: misses litterbox, plays head games, leaves dismembered corpses on your pillow.  Dog:  craps outdoors, doesn’t mind admitting is glad to see you, finds sleeping in heaps with chosen goddess sufficient glory and does not keep presenting asshole for admiration when you’re trying to watch a film. 

. . . AT WHICH POINT The Cat Anti-Defamation League, or possibly the Joss Whedon for Galactic Supremo Party, nailed me and WORD CRASHED . . . taking, among other things, New Thing with it.  Granted I have New Thing backed up liberally but I hadn’t copied today’s ep yet.  GAAAAAAAH.  Microsoft Recovery seems, in fact, to have recovered . . . this post, anyway, but I’m thinking maybe I’ll start a new file with today’s ep of New Thing, just in case of retrospective accidents.  And the four hundred and six empty documents also recovered are making me nervous.  What I had been trying to do was copy and paste one other quote from this article which maybe I’ll just type in . . .

How do you relax?

I do not understand your earthworld questionings. 

Maybe Whedon should take up bell ringing.  

*** I have MILLIONS of little green (mostly) mail-order things waiting to be potted on and/or planted out.  MILLIONS.  I swear every day Cathy was here there was another frelling delivery of little green things wanting to be potted on.  I’M SURE I DIDN’T ORDER ALL OF THIS STUFF.  And the day of our expedition, the one that was foiled, we stopped at a garden centre on the way home^ so that I could assuage my lacerated feelings and . . . MILLIONS.  I’M TELLING YOU.  MILLIONS.  

^ I was driving.  Cathy couldn’t stop me.  She tried.  

Although my sympathy dwindled to negligible when she was half an hour late.  I am near as near to finishing my second leg-warmer however.  I wonder what horrors I will produce/reveal when I try to seam the frellers up.  

†† We knew this, of course.  Meanwhile Niall is disloyally going back to Curlyewe on Monday—which is their tower practise night, so it’s easier to organise them to come along early for a slug of handbells first.  He promises this will not become a regular event.  I’ve never rung at Curlyewe (tower) so I’m jealous . . . and then it turns out Colin’s tower practise this Monday is on his grisly little garage ring—with the flowerpots in the ceiling, and the tenor, the biggest bell, weighs eleven frelling pounds.  It’s like trying to cook with a doll’s tea set.  ARRRRRGH. 

††† Maybe if she hadn’t been half an hour late. . . . 

‡ You need half-decent tea for the effect to be noticeable however.  Do not speak to me of tea BAGS if you wish to live.  And the latest fashion nonsense about triangular-solid-shaped bags that bloom in hot water, frelling spare me.  As if anyone who drinks PG Tips cares.  Mind you, if all you want/need is a slug of caffeine as rapidly as possible, it’s all good.  But a really excellent cup of tea worth lingering over requires finesse.  Which includes superior-quality LOOSE tea . . . and warming whatever you’re making it in first. 

‡‡ When I did use milk, I added it second.  But this was not because of philosophical deliberations or considerations of the physics of creaminess.  It was because I wanted to be sure the sixty-four spoons of sugar I put in first dissolved properly.


New Thing, 5

The Story So Far…


Gelasio was allergic to dogs, so we’d never had one.

We’d had little hairy yappy things when I was a kid, because my mother bred them:  Gormenghastly terriers.  If you have a Ghastly terrier, my mother probably had a hand in it somewhere.  The family joke was my parents had had only one kid because they needed the bigger of the other two bedrooms for breeding stock.  This was on the Very Upper West Side before it got gentrified;  by the time we were surrounded by CEOs and kitchen designers my mother’s Ghastlies had been declared to be in the national interest and no one could touch her unorthodox kennel arrangements.  Also, after my father moved out, she started sleeping with the building manager, who was god, and all the other tenants knew it.

She still had Ghastlies, but I hadn’t seen her or them in a while, since she was inclined to take Gelasio’s going off with the girlfriend as a personal failure.  Which is to say that my father had lived in Boston since I was a teenager, and my mother seemed to think I should have learned how not to have this happen to me by her experience.  Since learning by her experience (according to her) would have involved having several children, this was a non-starter, but I didn’t even have dogs as an excuse.

Making a cup of tea took twelve minutes, between how long it took for the water to boil, and then boil again after you’ve warmed the cup, and then waiting till the tea had steeped the precise length of time for optimum excellence—I was perhaps a trifle fussy about my tea—so I had time to invent my perfect dog.  If you put four or five (or six) of my mother’s Ghastlies together you would just about have one dog-sized dog, only I wanted one less hairy and yappy.  It would be tall and noble and graceful and have a far-off look in its eye.  It would also be short-haired and would never bark.  When the wizard from Flowerhair Four tried to break in and steal the medallion of chura kampo, which was lined up to be the quest thing in Flowerhair Five, my tall noble dog wouldn’t bark before it foiled his fiendish plan.  I had to admit that the slightly sinister three-bedroom house was much more appropriate for this scenario than the little normal two-bedroom one I’d already put in for. . . . Wait a minute.  Was I maybe having a little trouble with the standard boundaries of reality here?  Maybe eighteen cups of tea was too many for one day.  And after my tall noble barkless dog did its foiling, then what?  I call the cops?  Pardon me, I have caught this wizard housebreaking.   How do I know he’s a wizard?  Well, because he wanted the medallion of chura kampo— The medallion of what? the police receptionist would say.  Chura kampo, I would repeat, patiently, and who else but a magician . . .

My email pinged.

Two months’ security deposit is standard, wrote Hayley primly.  But you should inspect the property in person before you make your decision.  When will you be in this area?  I would welcome the opportunity to show it to you.  The house is unfurnished, but there is a plumbed-in connection for your washing machine in the kitchen.  The one restriction is that there is a no-pet rule.

No pets?  You are living in Cold Valley and you can’t even have a dog?   Almost without thinking, because my mind was full of the Silent Wonder Dog, I typed back, I am sorry about the no-pet rule.  I was looking forward to getting a dog, living in the country.  For the first time in my life.  I had been steadfastly not thinking about this ever since I saw my pin vibrating in the name Cold Valley.  I liked my holidays in the Adirondacks fine.  But I liked coming home even better.  I was with Marlon Brando on this one:  I don’t like the country, the crickets make me nervous.  Especially the really big ones that breathe under your windows all night and occasionally test the window latches.

Hayley wrote back so quickly I had visions of her dancing around the office in New Iceland, crowing to her colleagues, I have someone who wants to move to Cold Valley!, and being determined not to let me get away.  The other property permits pets, she wrote, and it has a washing machine, and some basic furnishings.

And Yog-Sothoth in the cellar, I thought.  I was going to have to inspect it in person.  With a lance, or at least a sturdy umbrella, to test the cellar walls for hollowness.   And why shouldn’t I inspect in person?  I looked around the huge empty room that had once been my office.  I’ll be there in three days, I typed.  Can you recommend a hotel?


Meteorological Mayhem


Hellhounds and I put Cathy on the train in Mauncester this morning.*  Hellhounds and I then headed farther out, to Warm Upford, to check on the bluebell situation.  And the heavens opened.  Sweet bleeding demiurges, I thought it had been raining before.  This was the solid wall of water variety, coming down so hard you not only can’t see out of your windscreen, but you wonder uneasily if it’s going to dent your roof and rip your windscreen wipers off.  You’re going at 20 mph because you can’t see . . . and then you fall into the Mississippi River, SPLASH, and here you thought you were in southern England and what the frell happened to the frelling levees?**  Fortunately Wolfgang is equipped with an amphibian button from his secret life as a stunt car for James Bond, and so we swam to shore and continued on our way, which had become brown and given to whirlpools.  We were the second car behind a monster lorry, and when it hit a road-flood I swear the bow-wave was taller than Wolfgang.  This kind of downpour doesn’t last, I told myself, clinging valiantly to the steering wheel, and indeed it didn’t, it slacked off to mere sheeting between onslaughts of cannonball rain.  We got out to Warm Upford and turned around despondently to come back by another route and . . . there was suddenly and unexpectedly this astonishing manifestation called ‘blue sky’.***  I pulled Wolfgang over at the first opportunity and hellhounds and I got out for a sprint. A wet sprint.  A very wet sprint.  A very, very wet sprint.  A very, very, very wet sprint.  A . . . .†

            I had a concert to go to tonight.  In Frellingham.  Arrrgh.  Frellingham is about forty-five minutes from here.  Nina lives there now, and she emailed me a while ago about the schedule at the little concert venue a few blocks from her and her bloke’s new house.  We had agreed that tonight’s visitation looked amusing:  a ragtag collection of old folk-hippie musicians who have (apparently) banded together against the encroachment of electro-techno alternative art prog dance-punk-metal experimental grungehorror cyberthrash, and gone on tour.   Nina had bought tickets.  Hellhounds and I got back from our wet sprint, and having used up sixteen towels getting half dry, I emailed poor Nina in a bit of a panic saying I’m not driving to Frellingham in this. 

            It cleared off.  Sort of.  Comparatively.†††  Hellhounds and I only got semi-wet on the afternoon hurtle, and the wind wasn’t blowing more than 80 mph except for the occasional gust, so I slid a few extra lead weights into the special James Bond slots under Wolfgang’s chassis†† and we went.

            The concert was . . . amusing.‡  Sometimes it is a good thing to be reminded that your youth is something you get to grow out of.  And I only got slightly lost on my way to Nina and Ignatius’ new house—I’ve only been there once before and which way you go on the unmarked roundabout(s) may take a little while to lodge in the memory.

            Tomorrow . . . reality bites.  And SHADOWS reign.‡‡ 

* * *

* Waaaaaah.  But . . . pretty much everything about the timing of this visit sucked dead (you should forgive the term) bears.  She was supposed to be coming after I had finished and handed in SHADOWS.^  She was supposed to be coming after I was caught up to Hamaker New Thing Monkeywrench #s 1 and 2.^^  She was also supposed to be coming here to have long walks through the countryside and, it being bluebell season, she would not only see bluebells, but we might possibly get a hellgoddess and hellhounds surrounded by bluebells photo.^^^

            No.  None of the above.  But she did see baby robins.  And we lay on the folded-out sofa at the cottage with a plethora of hellhounds# and watched WONDERFALLS## on the Shiny Two-Ton No Longer New Entirely Rebuilt Ex-Lemon### Laptop, thus proving it can do something right.~  Also, that bartender is hot.~~  And the rain drummed on.        

^ And was far enough along on the doodle backlog that you could actually get into my office again.  Not, I suppose, that she needed to get into my office, but it’s easier to browse my F&SF shelves, which are what live (mostly+) in my office, from within arm’s length than . . . not within arm’s length. 

+ There’s a wall of homeopathy too.  Which is why SF&F spills into the bedroom. 

^^ When in fact I’m writing ep 12 and it’ll be another one or two before we get to HNTM one.  We started #3 while she was here anyway. 

^^^ Instead she drank a lot of tea out of my bluebell mug+, since that was as close as she was going to get.  Well, there are a few bluebells in my garden, but given the, ahem, lushness of the planting out there, you’d get just as soaked going to look at them as if you went and found some wild ones. 

+ http://www.emmabridgewater.co.uk/flowers/bluebell-12-pint-mug/invt/ngbb002/

Hmph.  It’s got more expensive since I bought mine.

 # They expand to fill available space.  I’ve noticed this before. 

## http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonderfalls 

### She says with dramatic emphasis. 

~Including, evidently, playing a region 1 DVD.  I am so clueless about all of this. 

~~ So is Beth. 

** Ask George W. Bush. 

*** It was still raining, of course.  This is southern England^.  It rains out of blue sky all the time.  But it doesn’t usually rain the pummelling you all over your body kind of rain out of blue sky.  Usually. 

^ Unless it’s the Mississippi delta. 

†  And I’m afraid the rumours that it’s a bad year for bluebells appear to be true.  There aren’t as many flower stalks at all, it seems to me, and the ones there are have four or six little bells per, and usually you get twelve or fifteen.  Aside from the tricky questions about taking photos in the rain, if I can’t find a better forest floor of them, there won’t be bluebell photos this year.  I have a couple more places to try, but I’m not too hopeful.   That was my best bluebell sea today.

†† Very bad for mileage, but they do keep you on the road. 

††† I’ve just had a frelling email from frelling Cathy saying it was beautiful and clear all day where she was on the south coast.  WELL ISN’T THAT SPECIAL. 

‡ There wasn’t a single person there under forty.  There was also way too much khaki hemp^ and Birkenstocks, but I lowered the level as much as I could in a salmon-coloured turtleneck and All Stars and a watermelon-coloured pullover.   My frameless glasses are against me though.

^ No, no, not that kind of hemp.  

‡‡ And New Thing gets a nice padded footstool.

Wet wet wet


It’s okay.  I can write a blog tonight.  Darkness ate dinner*&^%$£@#~}+!!!!!!!!!!!  Cathy, on the other side of the table, is breathing a deep sigh of relief.  She’d made the perilous, not to say fatal, offer to write another guest blog if I found myself incapable on account of the extreme reprehensibleness of hellhounds and the resultant need to wail and rail incessantly all evening.*  Which is to say, Darkness stopped eating.  Yesterday. 

            I know, I know (and you regular readers know, you know).  Normal dogs—well, normal sighthounds—miss meals occasionally.  It’s not a big deal.  It’s a big deal with these guys because of their history.  And it’s a big deal to me because I’m the human supposedly in charge of managing they survive their history.  And they are a lot better, about food, about eating food, and about stopping eating (food) and about looking like they’re at death’s door after about twenty-four hours of not eating.  And I may have an ever so slight tendency to hit red alert before it’s absolutely necessary.  But. . . .

             If you graphed hellhound appetites and the amount of food I actually manage to get in them, the lines would swing up and down wildly anyway, like the surface of Lake Superior just before the Edmund Fitzgerald went down.  I’m used to this.  I don’t frelling like it, but I’m used to it.  Occasionally, however, one or both hellhounds ship a really big wave and head for the bottom.  If I hadn’t been distracted by having fun with Cathy—because I am an irresponsible dog owner and a horrible selfish thoughtless human being—I might have noticed that the current oh-well-maybe-I-will-and-maybe-I-won’t food mood was hardening into something more drastic.  It had crossed my mind that the current lack of enthusiasm phase was going on a little long.

               AND THEN . . .

               It has not been a good day.  Today was our last chance to get out into the country and look at bluebells.  And it rained.  Again.  It’s been raining all week.  It was raining when I picked Cathy up at the train station.**  It was raining as we both arrived at and left the abbey.***  It was raining most of Sunday in both Hampshire and Bristol, although Cathy managed to find a little sunlight and follow it around for a few hours.  It rained on my voice lesson.†  It rained on our going to Glaciation to ring with Colin.  It rained on our trip to Mauncester yesterday.††  IT’S BEEN RAINING FOREVER.  IT IS GOING TO RAIN FOREVER.†††  It is just about hip deep around town and squelching out over the countryside when Cathy only has two pairs of shoes with her is not really a credible option.


                It has not been a good day.

                 But Darkness ate dinner.  Enthusiastically.  So I can revert to being all wet and soppy and droopy and soggy, not about the rain, but about the fact that Cathy is leaving tomorrow. . . . 

* * *

* The deep sigh of relief may have been as much to do with the lack of incessant wailing and railing as the fearful prospect of coming up with another 1000+ words that could pass for a coherent synthesis of some damn thing or other only two days after the previous guest blog.  

** It had only just started raining (again), fortunately, since I was late.  Of course I was late.  I’m always late.  And then we had to hare off at extreme speed for the Reification of the Overgoddess at Forza.  I have rung my first service at Forza del Destino.^  Eeep.  This blood-freezing adventure began last Wednesday, when Ulrich said at practise that it was an all-hands-to-the-pumps situation Saturday afternoon for the reification.  I looked away and shuffled my feet because I am not, after all, an abbey ringer, but Gemma said, oh, go on, I’m going to.  So I checked with Cathy about train times and then, in fear and grovelling, although it’s difficult to get grovelling across in an email, I wrote to Ulrich, asking if they still needed extra hands for the reification, and he wrote back pretty much by return electron saying they’d be happy to see me.  Oops.  Now I’m for it. 

            In fact they didn’t need all of us shmo-level ringers, but they were nice enough to pile us all on for rounds on forty-eight.  And Og came by with his clipboard and said to me, smiling in what I’m sure he was under the impression was a friendly manner, You are now on my LIST.

            I may have a bell tower again.  That is, I admit, may.  I’m still expecting them to pull themselves together and bounce schmos like me.+++  And I wish it weren’t a gigantic, ancient, tourist-magnet, one hundred and twelve bell frelling ABBEY.  However, I’ll take what I can get.  And they’re still, with an irony so shiny and sharp it needs a scabbard++++, my best practical choice for a new tower.  Hahahahahahahaha.  Ouch, that hurts. 

^ I’m feeling just a trifle creeped out by my having long ago carelessly blognamed+ it The Force of Destiny.++ 

+ I invent a verb.  I feel it could have wider application however. 

++ It could be a lot worse.  I could have named it La Traviata or Aida. 

+++ Or I could revert to not being able to ring anything.  Anything.  But we are not considering this possibility.  We reject it.  

++++ And its name may be Doomblade. 

*** With a spectacular escort of guards.  Yeep.  We never had guards at New Arcadia, but then we didn’t rededicate goddesses either.  But Cathy and I crossed three different cordons, getting in—I’m a bell ringer! I kept squeaking, feeling a complete fraud—and two getting back out again.  Our favourite was the nice German lady (in the scary guard uniform) who wanted to know about bell ringing.  

Yes.  I took Cathy to my voice lesson.  And if she tries to write a guest blog about that I will destroy her.

            It was pretty interesting though.  I hadn’t thought about this when I asked Nadia if I could bring a friend that Monday, but it was the day after Diana’s memorial and I was going to be another jigsaw for Nadia to put back together, as well as in (fractured) avert mode because There Was Someone Else Listening.  It was not my most brilliant lesson—but it was not, in fact, my most embarrassing either.  Nadia says sometimes your worst practises and your worst lessons are the most educational—and this one taught me some stuff.  Nadia spent some time talking about channelling emotion into your singing.  The impulse—my impulse anyway—is to stomp all that slithery, squishy stuff down, and the stomping process is a lot of what breaks you up into jigsaw pieces.  Feh.  I’ve told you about the frelling chasm between what I can do at home when no one is listening, but where I don’t have all of Nadia’s tricks for getting a better quality of sound out of me, and what I can do for Nadia, whom I want to please and therefore am afraid to get stuff wrong forI mentioned that I’d torn the heart out of Che Faro over the washing-up and Nadia said briskly, I look forward to hearing it next week.  EEEEEEP.  This is pretty much the same kind of exciting and same kind of terrifying as the prospect of maybe having a bell tower again.  I would LOVE to work on Che Faro with Nadia, but I’ve assumed that was seriously down the line from where I am now.  And it probably is, you know?  I’ll take it in to her and . . . 

^ No, wait, I can’t destroy her, she’s helping me with New Thing.

+ And in answer to some forum question or other, yes, it will get a title, at least of sorts, as soon as you learn the protagonist’s name, which is in ep nine or so. 

†† More *&^%$£”+=}]~#@!!!!!!  Our trip was supposed to produce a certain outcome which was going to produce a particular blog post.  And we were FOILED by . . . well, never mind what we were foiled by.  I’ll get there in the end.  And then I’ll write a blog post about it.  Grrrrrrrrrr.  

††† I tell myself, rain is good.  We’re in a drought.  We need this rain.  I AM SURE I AM GROWING MOULD ALL OVER MY BODY.


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